KIRA STEIN, MD, APC

ADULT PSYCHIATRY - BOARD CERTIFIED ABPN


The Top Five Causes of Insomnia

The Top Five Causes of Insomnia

19 November, 2011

The Top Five Causes of Insomnia


The lack of quality sleep can affect people in many different ways. Both physical and mental abilities are impaired, which often affects ones ability to achieve in school and in the workplace. Insomnia has also been linked to obesity and an increase in weight. There are other medical repercussions as well, such as reduced immune function and increased likelihood of long-term diseases such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.Getting a good nights sleep on a regular basis is as important to overall health as a proper diet and regular exercise. Sleep is a necessary process that allows us to function, both intellectually and physically, at a level we expect during our waking hours. People who struggle with the various causes of insomnia, defined as the inability to obtain an adequate amount or quality of sleep, report a lower quality of life compared to people who do not have any sleep issues.

There are several risk factors for the condition, all of which can be causes of insomnia, and some of these factors cannot be controlled. Women, individuals over 60 and those with a mental health disorder are all more likely to experience insomnia.

Other factors are more subjective and temporary in nature. Stress is one of the most common causes of insomnia. Working nights or changing shift times can lead to problems sleeping, and long-distance travel and/or jet lag often leads to bouts of insomnia.

Treating the disorder is most often a matter of identifying the causes of insomnia and altering the behaviors or actions taken during waking hours.

Top five causes of insomnia

1) Food and drink (including alcohol): Ones diet has a profound effect on his or her ability to get a good nights sleep. This is especially true of anything consumed after mid-afternoon. Large amounts of food, particularly protein and processed sugar-rich foods, require more time to digest and can cause disruptions in sleep patterns. In addition, individuals should avoid drinking caffeine late in the day.

2) Activity level: A healthy lifestyle, complete with regular exercise, is one of the best ways to ensure a restful nights sleep and prevent causes of insomnia. Twenty to thirty minutes of vigorous exercise a day is an important part of the sleep/wake cycle. It should be noted, however, that exercise has a stimulating effect in the short term and should be completed 2-3 hours before bed to allow the body to return to a restful status.

3) Bedroom/sleeping environment: For most people, the ideal sleeping environment is reasonably cool, dark, and quiet. If you are having trouble sleeping, it is worthwhile to experiment with these and other variables, as well as with bedding and pillows to determine what works best for you. This can also assist in preventing some of the causes of insomnia.

4) Medications: Unfortunately, the type of medication you are taking may be one of the causes of insomnia. Trouble sleeping is a side effect of several medications, both prescription and over-the-counter. Consult with your prescribing doctor to ascertain if your prescription could be one of the causes of insomnia.

5) Stress and anxiety: Thoughts of stress and/or anxiety related to work, school, health and family have a tendency to surface at night, either while trying to get to sleep or later, and can be one of the causes of insomnia. Anxiety can also contribute to feelings of more serious depression.

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